Surveys are the most frequently utilized strategy for getting face-to-face with a non-believer. They can be used to follow-up team meeting talks, provide more information about the values and interests of your audience and, of course, provide a natural opportunity to transition into the gospel. They also allow control over the flow of contacts. As we need more student contacts we take more surveys. Some surveys build the gospel presentation right into them.
Surveys are most effectively used by individuals who see them as a way to build meaningful rapport, have an intelligent conversation with a stranger, and an opportunity to effectively communicate their faith. We have missed the boat when we regress to being merely survey takers.
There is no need to stick with the same survey week after week. It is very possible to design your survey to help you obtain information you want regarding your target audience. Each month of the year you could focus on a different survey topic (home life, aspirations, dating, stress, etc.) and have an evangelistic talk at the end of the month related to that topic.
One ministry leader described their survey strategy this way:
Our desire is to see what students are talking about on campus and use that as an entry point to share the gospel. Jesus often did the same by using analogies from the culture that people understood.
Many students read the campus newspaper and there is usually a ‘buzz’ about some controversial article that was written. For example, recently a professor was accused of making college women pose in a magazine. We look for a general theme, in this case, what is moral? We take that opportunity to enter into dialogue with the student by providing a definition of the term moral from a ‘universally accepted’ resource, such as Webster’s dictionary. If they agree with that definition, we begin a simple four-part questionnaire.
First, we craft a question such as, “Are you aware of the ‘behavior’ that was mentioned in the school newspaper?”
Second, we ask about their values in light of the behavior just mentioned.
Third, we ask, “What beliefs support their values?”
Fourth, we ask, “Where do their beliefs come from?”
Then, we transition by talking about what the Bible says about morality. We ask, “Would you mind hearing a brief presentation about being a true moral person?”
We then look to share a simple gospel presentation like “Knowing God Personally.”
There are an endless number of topics and current events on which to base your surveys. Here are a handful of ideas, tried on various campuses, to help stimulate your thinking.
The ministry in Cincinnati Metro came up with a smoking questionnaire, used to approach smokers gathered for a “smoke break.” The survey included questions like why they smoked and how many cigarettes they smoked. The last question would turn the topic toward spiritual issues. One staff member commented, “It’s great because we found that most students don’t like the fact that they smoke. So the survey created a need in them.”
At Dartmouth College, Cru led a two- week outreach called “100 Conversations.” The outreach was a simple challenge for the students to initiate with their peers and request a 45-minute, 12-question, spiritual perspective and interview with them. The interview discusses topics such as religious background, impressions of Christians, and the relevancy of God to deep needs.
Pencils Attached to Surveys
At Southwest Missouri State, students filled out Cru surveys that registered them to win a $200 gift certificate to the mall. Pencils were attached to every survey to prevent students from having to wait in line. The winner for the gift certificate was announced at the weekly meeting. Other times during the year, Cru staff members reward students who complete a 15-minute survey with a $2 gift certificate to a local icecream shop.
Four-Question Men’s Survey
At Boise State, one staff member designed a four- question survey just for men. The idea is not to rush through each question, but to engage in dialogue.
1. What’s your definition of a man?
2. Why is it that males lead in all areas of negative social behavior?” Between 80-90%
of all crime is male related: drunk driving, domestic violence, divorce. The idea of the second question is to get the student thinking about sin.
3. Do you think it is the responsibility for the man to initiate spiritual leadership with their wives or girlfriends?
4. If so, then what does this spiritual leadership look like?
If the timing is right, you can transition with this, “Another thing I share with people is a little booklet that explains the first steps of being the spiritual leader you were meant to be.”
Each year, Cru receives the freshmen list from Virginia Tech administration. Cru sends out a letter (approved by the university) to invite every freshman to complete a 12-question interview. Someone from Cru then sets up an appointment for the interview. Of the 12 questions, the last four are spiritually related. “We just listen and try to set up a second appointment to talk about the gospel,” says a staff member. For the last question, one might add, “We would love to talk more. Would you be willing to hear more about a relationship with God?”
At Western Kentucky, one student developed a War Survey to find out what students were thinking about the war. The survey had questions like, “What do you think of it?” “Does your religious faith cause you to think a certain way about the war?”
Posting Results In Campus Newspaper
To assess the spiritual climate on their campus, students at Ohio University surveyed 5,000 students in one week. Then a week before “Faith Week,” the college newspaper wrote an article posting the results of the survey.
Download some examples of printed surveys above . . .
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